5 Stars – Definitely Recommended
Oh. My. God.
These are the vampire books I didn’t know I was looking for but am happy I found.
These are more literary than lesfic with a deliciously dark and grim feel to the books – no sparkly vampires here. There’s no shying away from violence, gore or brutality. As stark and honest as the book portrays these things, the writing is gorgeous and weaves a compelling atmosphere and mood that is completely enthralling.
The author’s choice of Redamancy for the series name is particularly appropriate – “A love returned in full; an act of loving the one who loves you” captures Stela and Elizabeth perfectly. There’s an immediate and magnetic attraction between the women despite the obstacles and obligations that try to keep them apart. Redamancy is what drives everything they do. Their choices and decisions – as dangerous or destructive as they may be are all based on love.
I can’t recommend enough that both books be read.
Terrible Praise – Lara Hayes
When I first picked up this book, I read the blurb and thought “Vampires? Oh yes!” When I read the first few pages I thought “Vampires? Ugh” and put the book down where it quickly got lost in the back pages of my Kindle Library. This was the classic case of bad timing – I was in the mood for fluffy, happy and fun. Terrible Praise is not fluffy, happy or fun. It is; however, gorgeously written, deep, dark and enthralling.
When I picked it up again, I really couldn’t figure out what the hell was wrong with me the first time because this is a wonderfully addicting book that I couldn’t put down. I absolutely loved it and scrambled through my virtual TBR files to find the second in the series.
After hundreds of years , Stela remains Fane’s enforcer, but in this modern world she is not razing armies, but instead is terrorizing a middle aged financial advisor who is stupid enough to try to embezzle funds from the Strigoi, an ancient and deadly group of vampires who live and feed in the shadows. Struggling with a sense of ennui, she’s going through the motions, pushing boundaries and questioning. After a chance encounter with a young nurse who is overwhelmed by the responsibilities of dealing with her mother’s advancing dementia, there is a spark of recognition between the two troubled women. Unable to resist, Stela is drawn deeper into Elizabeth’s life – an obsession that distracts her from her obligations to Fane and the Strigoi. That obsession is reciprocated and, as much as the two try to disentangle themselves, they are drawn together like moths to a flame.
There’s a wonderfully gothic feel to this story – dark, sensual and dangerous. Ms Hayes prose is lyrical and literary, weaving an almost hypnotic cadence. At times there’s a bleak and somber feel – it’s heartbreaking to watch the interactions between Elizabeth and her mother as the dementia exacerbates the elements that strained their relationship and Elizabeth’s complicated feelings of love and responsibility. But the overarching push and pull between Stela and Elizabeth is what makes this such a fascinating story.
All Together Stranger – Lara Hayes
All Together Stranger picks up right after Terrible Praise, focusing on Elizabeth’s integration into the Strigoi after being turned and the consequences of her and Stela’s relationship and bond. There’s a different feel to this book – the story and characters are more grounded, the stakes are higher and it leads to a natural transition of mood and atmosphere.
Elizabeth’s slow but sure transition illustrates how effortlessly the vulnerable human shifts into a pragmatic and blood-thirsty Strigoi. Elizabeth’s pragmatism demonstrated in the first novel stands her well as she accepts her new life and the implications of being a Strigoi. At the same time, her “21st Century” independence pushes her to question and create a mounting tension with the others, including Stela.
The deep and enduring connection is still there – dangerously so as the newly turned Elizabeth has retained her bond with Stela instead of forging a new one with Fane. But as Elizabeth and Stela’s relationship grows, it is fraught with disagreements and frustration as they Elizabeth pushes against what is accepted and Stella tries to balance her obligations to Fane with keeping Elizabeth unwitting actions from attracting Fane’s suspicion. The concept of redamancy continues in this book, with every action taken, regardless of consequence, being an expression of love.
I really can’t express how much I enjoyed these books – but I will warn that the second book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger.